Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Now, in the beginning of this whole process I was determined to have a white kitchen. I initially wanted marble countertops but was quickly talked out of that idea due to this comment “have you ever seen aged marble?!? It’s yellow and stained all over the place.” The salesman could have easily sold me granite (it is more expensive) but instead he saw that I was a practical person and knew I would be upset with the fact the marble stains easily. I actually have read this but don’t know if it is true since I have never had marble counters, but I saw tons of marble in Italy and it yellows overtime. I was suddenly sold on the idea of having granite countertops. There are so many other options out there in terms of countertops; granite, quartz, Corian, laminate, recycled glass and they all have their own unique properties and pros/cons but ultimately we wanted something durable and nice to look at in the space.
I was thinking that a darker granite would ground white cabinets and we were leaning toward New Venitian Gold.
Of course with my last minute decision to go with cherry cabinets I changed gears and decided I would like something lighter. After a little research online I found Kashmir White which is a white stone with garnet accents. We figured that these garnet accents would be perfect with cherry cabinets. We went back to the granite yard and they gave me a sample of Kashmir White – it is going to look amazing once its installed.

Of course the counters I had grown to love are no longer being imported from India...They told me that they might start importing them again but couldn't give me a solid time-frame and that I ought to select another stone. I finally come to a decision that I truly love and then I have to find something else I love just as much. I wanted to respond with - "don't you know how hard it is for me to decide and pull the trigger?"  We had the granite yard send over pictures of similar looking stones they had on site and also scoured the internet for similar looking options. They are all beautiful but I had a vision of what I was looking for.

We were running out of time so I had to choose from the other white stone samples. We both thought that White Galaxy was light enough and had the garnet accents that I thought went well with the cabinets. 


After seeing it in person I was not convinced I would like these counters better than the first one I selected, but knew that I really had done everything I could. The granite yard told me that we were getting a more expensive stone at the same price as the less expensive price - as if that was supposed to automatically make me fall in love with it. Just because it is more expensive I am supposed to like it more?!? I don't operate that way and came home with a sample to let it "grow on me."
They are measuring for counters this week and we will hopefully have a finished product soon! I just hope that I love the counters - I could be looking at them for years. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Honestly that is how I felt after this project...at one point during this project I ended up on the floor in the fetal position. Pro tip: don't smell old pipes that were once connected to a garbage disposal. 

Upon our home inspection we learned that the garbage disposal under the sink was not working – we purchased the home as-is but included an inspection clause just to make sure that there were not any serious structural issues or other significant problems that we would consider “deal-breakers” to give us a chance to walk away from the sale. The broken garbage disposal was not deemed a deal breaker and after some research we determined it was something we could tackle on our own. After determining that the reset button did not fix the problem and after trying to use a hex wrench to get the blades moving we decided to replace it and do it on our own.
We first did some research on what kind of disposal to purchase and ultimately went with the Badger 5

 (find out more about the disposal and listen to their sounds here: Insinkerator)

It was determined to be an economical choice while also not being the loudest disposal on the market – honestly I don’t really care if it is loud or not. At Home Depot they have buttons you can press where it mimics the sounds of each make and model. They all sound the same to me except for the model that is the most expensive which is pretty quiet but really I could care less since it is a garbage disposal.  I can’t justify spending hundreds of dollars on a garbage disposal.

Also most garbage disposals, including the one we purchased, come ready for hardwiring into the house but the old one we removed had plugged right into an outlet in the cabinet so we purchased a kit to turn the disposal into a plug-in kind. I figure we will eventually hardwire it but in the interest of time and money it plugs in for now.
After getting our disposal delivered (we ended up buying it online to save a few bucks) I watched a guy install a garbage disposal step by step on youtube at least twelve times. 

Once I felt comfortable and somewhat confident I told RC it was time….
The first thing we did was remove the old one which was actually the hardest part – finding that to be a common theme at this house. The pipes were totally stuck and would not loosen for us to remove it. After spraying copious amounts of WD-40 (the BEST invention EVER) on the pipe joints and borrowing a pipe wrench we were finally able to get the old disposal off.  That is after I was in the fetal position on the kitchen floor sobbing uncontrollably because I was upset it wasn’t coming off. I was having a bit of a rough week...

Once it was off and out from under the sink and I threw it in the garbage (literally I threw it which helped get rid of my pent up aggression against the project) we went step by step with the guy in the youtube video. I of course had the laptop in the kitchen on the floor- seriously though the guy makes it look super easy. We installed it and had it operable in about 30 minutes. It actually works – pretty well I might add – and we are still married so I guess we can count this project as a success.
It is amazing how much smoother these projects go when you have the right tools...guess who got a pipe wrench for Christmas?!? When it comes time to add a dishwasher I think we might need to remove it to connect the dishwasher to it so I am glad we now know how to do it and have the proper tools.
I wish I would have captured more pictures - this was a 2 man job so I didn;t have the ability to take any progress shots.

This is one of those posts where I like it put it out there that we are not professionals but most of the time we learn how to do things around the house by doing a little research and watching some youtubes to realize that we are capable...and so are you. Like I always say, if you can read directions you can probably do it!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


We have our cabinets installed and we are thrilled with the way things are looking around here. There are so many options out there when it comes to kitchen cabinets but luckily I had already narrowed down the door style I wanted. This helped us decide what kind of cabinets we wanted.
I had decided on the “shaker” door style a long time ago when I would lustfully look at kitchen cabinets (we had not even moved into this house yet!). The part that really made me think was the color of the cabinets. I love white kitchens and they are so hot right now. Almost every kitchen they re-do on TV is white. Our last house had white cabinets that we had painted and so going into this process I was pretty sure that I wanted white cabinets. As we looked at many sample doors on showroom floors I began to quickly realize how the painted white doors showed cracks really badly in the joints and the fingerprints were just gross. RC and I are relatively clean people and I don’t mind cleaning smudges off the cabinets but cracks are whack. Also, I don’t consider myself “trendy” (you may be reading this and saying “yes you are” but I like to think I am not; agree to disagree – okay?). White kitchens are so hot right now and I am concerned that it is a trend meaning that in 5 years I will hate my white cabinets because I should have gone with wood cabinets since wood never goes out of style. Both RC and I love dark wood and much of our furniture is dark wood so I went with my second love of cherry cabinets.  I don’t have to worry about dirty smudges, or the cracks, or my white cabinets looking dated in 5 years. It was a very difficult process for me - I still lust after white kitchens I see.
We looked at a bunch of different manufacturers and ultimately decided on Wolf Cabinets. They are made with solid wood doors, plywood construction, dovetailed drawers, and soft closing hinges and drawers, and made in the USA.
I must say that the last part really made me decide that these were the cabinets for us. Those of you who know us personally know that we love products made in the USA and well, RC just loves the USA.

We worked with the kitchen designer and had a design that we were able to walk out with that day. This was possible because I had taken measurements and drawn out a map to bring with us so we could tell them how many linear feet of cabinets we needed. Since we had our map we were able to tell him what kind of cabinets we wanted in what space so we knew exactly what they would cost.
Below is my map compared to the map the designer gave us.

The kitchen designer worked out a layout for us and we were able to walk out that day with our new layout. It looks pretty close to what I had in mind.
So we ordered the cabinets that day and just had to wait for them to be delivered to the warehouse so we could pick them up.

Things we learned:
  • Quotes are typically given in “linear feet”. This gives you an idea of what you will ultimately spend on cabinets – of course there are a bunch of different options that can increase your cost but this is a good baseline. You ultimately pay by the cabinet you choose (lazy susan, double door, single door, drawers, etc.)
  • Going to the showroom with a “map” of your kitchen with measurements of walls, windows and appliances is key.
  • Cabinets come in increments of 3” in width.
  • Custom cabinets are very expensive – standard sized cabinets are just as nice.
  • Standard cabinet dimensions: Height 36”, Depth 24 inches.
  • Patience is a virtue.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Last of the Plastic Cabinets

Now that our wall has been demolished and build back up we can continue the transformation by adding cabinets. We had a lot of contractors who came in and said by taking down the wall we will lose cabinet space – I think we broke even maybe added a little – so there.  Not to mention will have more counter space, a dishwasher and a more modern feel.
Of course I had not yet decided what cabinets I wanted and there was the whole unexpected demo of an entire wall of cabinets so I thought I could take my time in choosing cabinets but, as in everything else, we sucked it up and went cabinet shopping and decided we should choose/buy cabinets as soon as we could. We literally had about 48 inches of counter space and one cabinet after the demo project was finished – time was of the essence.
Here is a sneak peak of the cabinets we chose and we are now just awaiting their installation!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Fire

We live near a firehouse so it is not strange for us to hear the sirens at all times of the day. Yesterday while we were relaxing after working on some small projects around the house I felt like the sirens were unusually loud and I said to RC – “Are they on our street or something?!?” and then they stopped. That’s when I knew that Arlington's Finest were In. Front. Of. My. House. Before I knew it there were firefighters running into our next door neighbor’s home.
I have never been so close to a house on fire that I literally think I stopped breathing for a second. This was the view out my front door and even while typing this – it gives me the chills.
More fire trucks kept responding and in the end we had six engines, one ambulance and two police cars blocking entrance to our street. RC and I just stood on our front lawn watching all the action and I just could not believe what was happening. Watching a house that looks exactly like yours spewing smoke is not comforting at all. Then all of a sudden the firefighters busted out the window with the water from the fire hose. That’s when I knew how serious it was. I will never forget that sound.
While we didn’t see any flames protruding from the roof like you might see in pictures or on TV, but it was so surreal just standing there watching it. Once firefighters began taking their gear off I knew the fire was out and I was not worried about fire spreading to our home. The fire actually started on a mattress so interpret that however you want…
The whole ordeal unfolded in about an hour and the last truck left about 30 minutes after that. The fire actually started on a mattress so interpret that however you want… Nobody was injured in the fire and they were able to put the fire out quickly so the damage did not extend throughout the entire house but it will probably take a while to repair all the damage. Heartbreaking.
The whole neighborhood came out to see what all the commotion was– so we ended up meeting some of our neighbors that we had not yet met which was great. We live in a neighborhood of some really nice people, some which commented that they were happy it wasn’t our house on fire since they had noticed all the hard work we were putting into it – a nice compliment!
A house fire is probably one of my biggest fears. We have smoke/CO2 alarms on every floor and a fire extinguisher in the kitchen but of course the one thing I didn’t think about was a rescue ladder for the second story rooms. In fact, one of the firefighters mentioned that in our neighbor’s house he saw a rescue ladder still in the box – probably should take that out and have it ready to go. I honestly had never even thought to get one of these but I’m getting one today. I also found some good information on the ACFD website regarding Fire Safety and encourage you to do the same. They will even come out to your home and do a Free Fire Safety Check.
Thanks to the ACFD for their hard work and professionalism!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Substantial Completion

Here is where we stand with the kitchen. The wall has been taken down, re-supported with a beam, rebuilt and painted. If you think I am trying to trick you and this is in fact a different house I don’t blame you. It looks like a different house and looks nothing like the 1940s built home we started with when we bought it.
Here is what you see when you walk in the front door.
You really notice the windows now and there is so much more light than before. This picture obviously taken at night and it doesn't feel like a cave anymore.  I absolutely LOVE the color we chose for the walls which I was wavering on up until I went to the store to pick it up. I always find myself picking a color and then second guessing myself and trying to find a better color but I almost always go back to the first color I choose. RC helped me get over my fear when he assured me that Harvest Brown was the best one. I’m not going to lie… even when they were mixing it and I saw it for the first time in paint form I was a little freaked out. With the trim painted bright white the windows really pop against the walls and it feels much more modern than before.
Our GC was awesome to work with. This is the first time we have done a serious construction project and hired someone to complete it; I don’t regret it. We obviously are not structural engineers and could not even tell you what is required to support a load bearing wall so we needed to hire someone for this. They worked quickly too which was great - substantially complete after six days.
We are at the substantial completion phase which means that we are not 100% complete as there are a few very minor things left to complete. We are able to live in the space now and start using it as much as we can; we have moved all the furniture back into place and RC even cooked lunch on Sunday using the stove. He cooked chicken noodle soup for me since I was under the weather (Husband of the Year).
Now that the wall is up we begin the next phase of adding new cabinets. The old ones were just hideous. Until the cabinets arrive and we find a day to install them (we are installing them ourselves) we are just going to have to work with the limited counterspace we have. I can’t wait to have a fully functional kitchen again.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wall Demo: Day Three

Here is a shot RC took of the kitchen end of day 3/beginning of day 4. Not a whole lot different than the prior day but again came home to a clean house.
Today when we got home we found out that they have in fact evened out the drywall in the ceiling. Apparently the previous project had drywall installed over the original plaster which left uneven surfaces all throughout the kitchen. Very happy that they have now evened out the ceiling.
We also determined that the ceiling will look seamless once finished. The beam is not hanging down below the ceiling line. They added the drywall tape and finished mudding (a true art form) and now we wait for it to dry before the painting begins. RC and I headed to HD to pick up the paint and some light fixtures we have picked out for the space.
We chose Behr's Harvest Brown for the wall color and will have the trim bright white. The rest of the trim in the house is beige – this only motivates me more to paint the rest of the trim. I HATE beige trim.
This is actually the first time we have ever let someone else paint. We usually do it ourselves but it is included in the cost of the wall construction so I am fine with having someone else do it. Just this once though – I really hate paying people to do something I know I can do myself.
We also grabbed a couple of light fixtures to replace the fluorescent light and the cigar bar light that we currently have in the kitchen. I think these light fixtures will be just the right amount of botox needed for our kitchen. The crew said they would even install them since they have to take the old ones off to paint the ceiling – so again I’m letting them do it.

We did make a last minute decision to take out the remaining cabinets today and repair the drywall – minor meltdown from scrambling to find a place for the things that were in the cabinets but it only lasted about 3 hours so I would say today wasn’t too terrible.
Living through a construction site is not for the faint of heart – or people who cook meals at home every night of the week…
Here’s to Day 3.